Thursday, July 25, 2013

Learning from Picture Books: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Before I get to my usual picture book analysis, I wanted to tell you about a great place to learn more about writing picture books. Over on her blog, author Pam Calvert is running Picture Book
University - a mini workshop for picture book writers. In her weekly post she covers different genres, storyboarding, and what terms like "character-driven" mean. I definitely recommend taking a look if you're interested in writing picture books!

And now, for this week's picture book:

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

written and illustrated by Mo Willems

published by Balzer + Bray, 2012

ages 3 - 7

From the Publisher:
Once upon a time, there were three hungry Dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur . . . and a Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway.

One day—for no particular reason—they decided to tidy up their house, make the beds, and prepare pudding of varying temperatures. And then—for no particular reason—they decided to go . . . someplace else. They were definitely not setting a trap for some succulent, unsupervised little girl.
Definitely not!

This new take on a fairy-tale classic is so funny and so original—it could only come from the brilliant mind of Mo Willems.

My Thoughts as a Writer:
I love the way the humor in this story isn’t dumbed down for kids. The author cleverly uses the structure of the original story but adds a twist where the Dinosaurs are trying to lure Goldilocks inside and catch her. It reminds me how important the concept or idea behind the story is for a picture book.

The narrator talks to the reader with in such a way that child readers will predict the opposite or know that the opposite is going to happen – a great strategy for helping them to understand the plot.  In the illustrations, the expressions on the character’s faces add to the interpretation of the story, and there are lots of funny details for observant readers (e.g., signs).

My Thoughts as a Teacher:
This book is just so much fun it’d be a great read aloud to promote the love of reading. I’d use it after students had heard a couple of more traditional versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, so that they have a better foundation for the jokes and differences from the original. Follow up activities could include comparing the traditional version with this one, especially in grades 1 and 2.

Even though some of the humour might be difficult for younger kindergarten students, they would enjoy this book too and probably ask for a re-reading.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds different and fun! I like that you gave some follow-up activities too. Thanks!


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